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Evaluating Tools for Trauma-Informed Issues

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By no means are all issues about plurality/multiplicity centering around abuse and trauma — however it is important to note that there are a good number of people in our community who do have trauma in their past and are in need of supports and assistance. They may not be able to speak up for themselves on issues such as poorly thought-out or worded questions on assessments that may further stigmatize or burden persons who have been traumatized.

As an example of assessment that does not take potential abuse issues into account: DLA-20 scores. This helpful assessment gives a scale of how well an individual is performing normal "daily living activities" and is an indicator of whether their mental health symptoms are interfering with their functionality. These are often rated by a case worker in conjunction with observing or questioning the client.

Criteria 9 on the DLA-20 is "Family Relationships" and does not take into account whether or not said family relationships are safe/healthy for the individual. Criteria says "Gets along with family, positive relationships as parent, sibling, child, significant other family member." There are times that there cannot be a healthy relationship with one's parents or other "close relatives" and it's not or should not be something that is a burden for the person being evaluated. A more trauma-informed assessment would take this into account, perhaps pointing out that the person has appropriate relationships "like family" with persons whether or not related by blood. For some multiple systems, family relationships are a point of internal contention as some love their family, and others are aware that their family is still abusing them and hurting them and thus not safe to be around. Such questions could lead to harmful interactions with family members to "improve their score".

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